Never Too Late: Brown Physics Student Earns Ph.D. at Age 89

Manfred Steiner successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation, “Corrections to the Geometrical Interpretation of Bosonization” in Brown University’s Department of Physics.

“It’s an old dream that starts in my childhood,” said 89-year-old Steiner. “I always wanted to become a physicist.”

As a young man, Steiner fled Vienna as World War II ended and made his way to the United States. “I knew physics was my true passion by the time I graduated high school. But after the war, my uncle and my mother advised me to take up medicine because it would be a better choice in these turbulent after-war years,” said Steiner.

He followed his family’s advice and graduated with a medical doctorate in 1955 from the University of Vienna. He then went on to Washington, D.C. where he studied and trained in hematology, and, finally, a three-year stint at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1967.

Throughout his career, his love for physics never diminished. “Physics was always a part of me,” he said. “And, when I retired from medicine and I was approaching age 70, I decided to enter the world of physics.”

He started taking physics classes at MIT, but transferred to Brown University. After successfully defending his thesis, he said: “It feels really good. I am really on top of the world.” Despite many other accomplishments, Steiner said, “this Ph.D. is the one that I most cherish because it’s the one that I was striving for my whole life.”

“I think young people should follow their dreams whatever they are, they will always regret it if they do not follow their dreams,” said Steiner.

Image source: Brown University

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